FOUCHE Joseph - Letter Signed September 1809
FOUCHE, Joseph, Duke of Otranto (1759-1820)
Letter Signed (“Fouché”) to M. Eschasseriaux, French Minister Plenipotentiary to the court at Lucca, an irate letter regarding export duties unexpectedly imposed on a shipment of Carrara marble.
3 pages folio in French, Paris, 10 September 1809.
The sumptuous Empire style had an obvious need for marble, be it for statues or for building. The famous quarries at Carrara came under the jurisdiction of the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Napoleon’s sister Elisa.
Elisa appears to have been an energetic and capable administrator of the territory, and maintained close and cordial relations with the Emperor. It is therefore likely that the problem was provoked by a difficult official.
Trans: “. . . I have just been informed that M. Henraux, Government agent for the acquisition of marbles in Italy, has encountered many problems and irritations from M. Gonolet, Director of the Elisiane Bank in Carrara, regarding the export of the marbles which this agent is buying on behalf of the French government. M. Gonolet is trying to force him to pay enormous duties which the Court at Lucca established on 7 February last . . . he had impounded eighteen blocks belonging to the Government; he even dared rub out the initial letters of the French Empire, and substitute the mark of his bank. . . I would hasten to put together a report on this affair for H.M. the Emperor, if I were not certain, Sir, that your intervention before H[er] R[oyal] H[ighness] the Grand Duchess of Tuscany will suffice. . . I have given orders to M. Henraux to purchase . . . all the marble which it is to acquire for the Government, but this will only happen on condition 1. that the expropriation of the blocks belonging to France will be lifted without delay; 2. that the verdicts delivered against the French regarding the right to export will be regarded as void; 3. that no charges will be payable with regard to these verdicts; 4. that all the marbles which the bank will purchase for the Government, and those already purchased, will not be subject to export duty; 5. finally, that the Bank will supply the marble at the same price and of the same quality as those which it has purchased heretofore from the owner of the quarries. . .”
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